The Delaware News Journal , CBS Marketwatch, and GovExec report this afternoon on the passage of S. 2145 out of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, by a unanimous vote. The GovExec story details one contested amendment which was voted on today:
The committee also approved, 10-5, another amendment from Voinovich affecting information sharing, legal reviews of chemical plant security plans and penalties for facilities that violate their security plans. Lieberman led opposition to the amendment, arguing it would weaken the bill.
He cited, for example, provisions on information sharing that he said would restrict the public release of department-issued noncompliance orders and limit the public’s ability to take legal action against chemical companies.
The stated rationale for this amendment was that it would provide a “roadmap to the terrorists” if DHS provided public notification of a non-compliant facility. That seems like a facetious argument to me – and I’d argue that stipulating public notification of noncompliance is actually good for security, because it places a greater burden on plants to comply, and it provides people living in the proximity of a plant with the ability to make informed decisions about whether they want to live near an unsafe plant – which seems like a fundamental public right.
Even though this is now a worse bill for this amendment, I’m glad that it has finally moved through committee, and it’s time for everyone on all sides of this issue to realize that they can’t always get what they want, and finally pass the bill on the floor.
Update (6/16): More from UPI.